As many of you may already know, I am a Media Studies and Drama teacher by profession. I teach from the ages of 13-19 year old and I love it! Some days the students can pull you into their teenage dramas and some days you need to manage your own.
Remembering back to my first year of teaching it was hard. You had a new school, procedures, staff, environment, data analysis, meetings and students to get used to. Plus, your actual pedagogy and teaching style to perfect (it never can be perfected). On top of that your immune system gets attacked by every pathogen, germ and illness you can think of under the sun. So here are a few easy tips on how to come out of your first two years alive!
1. Stay Healthy!
This is very important in your first few years of teaching, especially when you are still learning how to become a teacher. My first year I was sick at least 4-5 times which was very stressful because you need time off work and then your kids get behind. You try your best to be there for them but you feel horrible. However, its okay to look after yourself and you do not want to infect your staff and students. Prevention is key of course. Get your flu shots, start taking some garlic oil tablets and keep active to prevent any illness settling in. The most crucial time is your first term break. Mentally, you release all the stress of your hectic first term on the last day and you give permission to your body to relax. DON’T. Try your best to keep your first week of school holidays active. As soon as your body thinks it can relax your immune system weakens and in sneaks the colds and flu’s. Don’t believe me? Just wait and see 😉
2. Leave your work at WORK
Now, there is always a lot to do when your a teacher and it is never ending. That is why I recommend that you NEVER take work home with you. It is so easy to take it home and then decide “oh, I should make this resource” and next thing you know its 11pm and you’ve forgotten to shower and eat dinner. Don’t leave work until your work is done. When I leave work the rest of my evening is mine. None of this “I’ll just make this lesson plan” and then “I will quickly scoff my dinner and finish this report” business. Do not merge your ‘life’ with your work. Home time should be relax and regenerate time.
3. Make a “Things to Do” list
I use scrap A4 paper, cut them into A5 size and chuck a clip on it. At the start of the day, I write down everything that I want to get done that day e.g. “Email Rachel for moderation meeting”. You can have another section for “Later” stuff such as “write reports due on Friday”. Once I have finished a task I cross it off and it shows I have made progress. It also stops me from forgetting important stuff. I use this list for the above tip (Tip 2: Leave your work at WORK) as it gives me achievable goals that I can reach. Of course prioritize your task to make sure the most important ones get done first.
4. Make friends with the Support Staff
These people are VERY IMPORTANT so make sure you take the time to build positive relationships with them. They can be receptionist, principal assistants, accountants, cleaners, librarians, grounds keepers, teacher aids etc. . . They can save your BUTT! You may need to call in a favor (especially, if you have messed up a procedure that you didn’t know about) and they can help you 🙂 Make sure to always stop and have a chat with them. They also like bribes. Chocolate is good. 😉
5. Collect Evidence
In your first two years you will need to collect evidence that proves you’re a competent teacher for your full registration. Do this throughout, instead of at the end of your two years. It will make it so much easier. If you have done a class brainstorm on the board, take a photo of it and email it to yourself. Keep all your evidence in a digital folder ready to pull out.
6. Back up your Files
Your resources can be reused, edited and changed throughout your teaching career so make sure your are keeping your digital resources safe. Many people upload to google drive, some keep them on USB’s (I don’t recommend you store all of your resources in USB’s) and external hard drives. Google drive is probably the safest. I use two external hard drives. One that travels with me throughout the day and another in a safe place. Every now and then I will update my second one with new resources. What ever you do keep them SAFE. USB’s are too easy to lose (I have done it, its terrifying) and you have worked hard to make those resources.
7. Allocate your Non-Contacts/Days
Decide which day or period you want to do pastoral duties, or plan your lessons for the week. I usually call families for absences on Thursday’s period 5 or after school. This gives students a chance to get their “absence notes” in before the end of the week. These sort of things are dependent on your timetable and when your HOD or HL need them by. Just keep the consistency and routines so you do not fall behind.
8. Ask for help
It is not shameful to ask for help when you need it especially when managing the classroom and behavior. Remember, you are still learning and that your a life-long learner so even experience teachers should not be afraid to ask for help. It just shows that you want to improve your teaching style and pedagogy. Get your mentor or another teacher in to observe a few lessons. Chances are they will see what you cannot and be able to give tips on what to try next time. I remember my first year 9 class where I had 32 students and I felt like a headless chicken every lesson. I ask my mentor Bindy to come and observe me over a month. We would meet after each observation and she would give me some recommendation, then I would trial them for a week and she would come in again the following week. This class became one of my favorite classes 🙂
Of course your teaching style and pedagogy is a different ball game and you will always be learning new strategies. This list is simple to make sure you don’t go insane in your first years. Let me know if this was helpful in the comments below.